Enhance La Jolla meets to discuss future projects

A lot has happened with the Enhance La Jolla board’s efforts to get a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) in La Jolla going. After a year of legal battles, Enhance La Jolla met March 7 at the La Jolla Library to add three new members to the board and talk about the projects they could carry out.

“A large part of the meeting today is ‘restart’ Enhance La Jolla,” said president Ed Witt. “It has been a year since we’ve had a meeting and going forward, we will meet much more regularly and will begin to conduct business. I think we are going to be pretty busy this year.”

Through the MAD, Enhance La Jolla would have the authority to 1) “enhance” City-provided services and 2) privately fund and complete capital improvement projects in public spaces, such as upgrade trash cans, install benches, augment signage, create roundabouts, make park improvements, increase public art and plant tree canopies on main thoroughfares.

The first task has been complicated by legal battles, but the second is making headway.

The MAD for La Jolla was approved by a majority (weighted by property size and type) of the commercial and residential property owners within its boundaries in November 2016.

Soon after the MAD was passed, the La Jolla Benefits Association LLC was formed. It filed a lawsuit challenging the MAD’s legality on the grounds that services the MAD would provide are services the City should be carrying out, such as additional trash collection, litter abatement, graffiti control, landscape maintenance and power-washing sidewalks.

After legal back-and-forth, San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp ruled the MAD could proceed.

“After months of legal battles with a vocal minority, our office successfully defended the City in this frivolous lawsuit that went against the will of the voters,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said at the time. “Now, the community’s plans to establish a Maintenance Assessment District in La Jolla can finally move ahead.”

However, three months later, a notice of appeal was filed by the opponents.

In the meantime, it was announced at last week’s Enhance La Jolla meeting, that the La Jolla Community Foundation (LJCF) has two privately funded projects in development to improve The Village. The Foundation raises funds to improve the quality of life in La Jolla.

“(La Jolla architect) Mark Steele submitted a grant proposal for a streetscape plan and is working with local architects, planners and landscape designers to come up with an overall plan for The Village,” said Phyllis Pfeiffer an Enhance La Jolla member and La Jolla Light president and general manager.

“The first phase is doing a block-by-block inventory of every problem on every street in the district — whether it is street furniture, broken sidewalks or other issues. Then the group is going to create a streetscape plan that everyone can see and review.

“The decision of the LJCF was to do this in phases because there is a lot that needs to be done. We looked at the core of the Village — such as Girard Avenue and Prospect Street — as what the streetscape planners would focus on. The funding has been approved by the LJCF members, so payments will be transferred to Enhance La Jolla to pay for these services.”

Interns will conduct the inventory and the designs will be produced by professionals in The Village.

“Capital improvements will be funded through private contributions, so we need beautiful drawings to show donors,” Pfeiffer continued. “Benefactors need concrete designs in order to decide how they might like to contribute.”

The second project is in collaboration with La Jolla Parks & Beaches president Ann Dynes and a sub-committee looking to install branded bike racks in The Village.

“The committee asked the LJCF to administer their contributions, so we set up a fund for the bike racks within the Foundation. The LJCF will receive funds, file IRS paperwork and provide donors with letters documenting their contributions,” Pfeiffer said.

“Funds will then be transferred to Enhance La Jolla for bike racks in The Village.” The rack locations have not been determined.

Enhance La Jolla has 13 directors on its board: Seven property owners (or representatives of property owners) paying the LJMAD assessment; three members of the Board of Directors of the La Jolla Community Foundation; one member of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association; and two representatives of the La Jolla community at large.

At the March meeting, three new members were elected to the board: Joe LaCava (member at large), Chris McKellar (commercial property owner) and Jonathan Lipsky (commercial property owner representative). Additionally, officers were elected: Ed Witt as president, Joe LaCava as secretary and Andy Nelson as treasurer.

To learn more, visit enhancelajolla.org

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